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Awards and Competitions

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inside a salute to teachers award night at balboa theater

Academic competition and recognition opportunities for students and staff

The San Diego County Office of Education supports countywide academic competitions and recognition programs for employees and students.

Academic competitions promote increased student interest in academic achievement and increased public understanding of schools. SDCOE recognizes the value of these events as integral parts of school life that enrich the education and social development of students, as well as encouraging new interests among students. These events include The San Diego ​​​​​​Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee, Academic League, and the Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair.

Employee and school award and recognition programs such as county teacher of the year and distinguished schools allow for public recognition of exemplary achievement by local staff members and schools. These achievements highlight the great educators, students, and schools. 

Spelling Bee

The San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee is open to students in grades 6-8 who attend a school with an enrollment of 30 or more children. The winner is awarded the title of Spelling Bee Champion and gets to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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Academic League

Since the early 1970s, SDCOE has been taping and broadcasting the countywide Academic League competition, where student teams from four regions compete by answering questions on science and literature to history, math, and music.

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County Teacher of the Year

Since 1974, SDCOE has recognized teachers from across the region for their commitment to teaching and learning. Every year, teachers representing all 42 county districts are invited to apply for San Diego County Teacher of the Year.

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County Classified School Employee of the Year

The Classified School Employee of the Year program recognizes exemplary classified school employees who best represent all of California's classified staff and symbolize the profession's contributions and commitment to quality education. SDCOE coordinates at the county level. For more information, contact

Distinguished Schools

The California Distinguished Schools (DS) Program recognizes elementary and middle and high schools in alternate years and allows eligible schools to apply for the California DS Award once every two years.

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